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The leader of a Russian hacking group that targeted the emails of high-profile Kremlin figures has been given two years in prison by a Moscow court.

Vladimir Anikeev’s group “Shaltai Boltai” (Humpty Dumpty) was notorious for hacks including the Twitter account of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

He was tried amid tight secrecy and convicted of unauthorised access to computer information.

Anikeev argued he was defending freedom of information and the internet.

A former journalist, he denied that Humpty Dumpty was political or had links to the FSB security service. Two other men have also been accused in the case, Alexander Filinov and Konstantin Teplyakov.

Among the Kremlin figures he was accused of targeting were presidential aide Andrei Belousov, the prime minister’s press secretary Natalya Timakova and state TV presenter Dmitry Kiselyov, who also heads the Sputnik news agency.

Media captionHumpty Dumpty member Alexander Glazastikov: “Most of what we published was a matter of public interest.”

Anikeev’s defence said it would not contest the sentence but would make a plea for early release, news agency Ria Novosti reported. He has already spent several months in custody.

Earlier this year, the BBC interviewed another member of the Humpty Dumpty group, Alexander Glazastikov, in Estonia.

Initially the group was “a politically-oriented project in opposition to the Kremlin” that targeted domestic corruption, he said.

Then he claimed that last year Anikeev had been approached by a senior member of the FSB. An FSB official was among those arrested earlier this year.

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